DENVER -- Rockies veteran Michael Cuddyer will cherish a holiday gift that doesn't cost a thing: a good night's sleep.Cuddyer will happily celebrate with his wife, Claudia, 4-year-old son, Casey, and twin girls, Chloe and Madeline, who were born last Dec. 6. Last year with the newborns, let's say the Cuddyers exhausted eyewitnesses to Santa's Christmas Eve flight. "We're getting a lot more sleep than we did this time last year, that's for sure," Cuddyer said over the phone from Virginia, with the twins having a conversation in their own little language behind him. "We were up every three hours. Lately, they've been sleeping through the night, so we'll be able to remember the Christmas season a little more." A well-rested Cuddyer will extend the holiday spirit beyond his own family. A longtime contributor to community causes during 11 seasons with the Twins -- and the Rockies' Roberto Clemente Award nominee this year in his first season with in Colorado -- Cuddyer will be doing charity work near his home. "We're usually busy with the family around the holiday season, but we are always giving of our time and effort wherever it's needed," said Cuddyer, who hit .260 with 18 home runs and 58 RBIs in 2012. "Some of my friends in baseball -- David Wright of the Mets and Ryan Zimmerman of the Nationals -- are going to be part of a bowling tournament around here. A lot of local celebrities come to it, and it feels good to help them out." The tournament will be on Jan. 13, organized by the Circle in the Bridge fund-raising and community assistance group in Norfolk, Va., to help out CHKD (Children's Hospital of the King's Daughters).
These also are the times that try players' workout programs and training diets. Many players have worked hard on conditioning during these offseason months, but go into the holidays worrying that they'll lose it all during this festive time.But Cuddyer, at 33, and 16 years into his pro career, doesn't stress the good times. He'll spend time in Norfolk and in the Washington, D.C., area with his wife's family, and balance workouts, food and fun. "My guilty pleasures are the sweets, no doubt about it -- the holiday log roll, cakes and pies," Cuddyer said. "My wife's mother is Portuguese, so if I go there for a regular dinner, they have something like 25 deserts, everything imaginable. "You learn how to manage the holidays and the workouts. You know it's getting near the time for Spring Training, time to get ready to go. At the same time, it is the holidays and you're supposed to have a good time with the family. If you go to visit, sometimes your workouts will suffer. I'll try to get the workouts in, but at the same time, I never stress about it, because I'm with family." Cuddyer also took time to discuss baseball issues, such as: His health, after being on the disabled list for 55 games -- including the final 44 -- with a right oblique strain. "I'm 100 percent, and if the season had gone about a week longer, I would have been able to play in the last four or five games of the season. I got home feeling healthy, and it didn't keep me from doing any of my workouts. I'm having a full offseason." The theory that playing a season for the first time for the Rockies, given growing scientific research into whether going in and out of the mile-high atmosphere increases fatigue and injury risk: "For me from a performance standpoint, I didn't notice much of a difference. Yes, you notice you get a little winded here and there when you reach when you chase a ball into the gap, but that's about it. As far as going in and out of the atmosphere, I don't see a difference. I strained an oblique. I see people straining an oblique in San Diego. The biggest difference I've found is your skin is dryer, so you need to sleep with a humidifier and use more lotion, but that's the same in Arizona." New manager Walt Weiss, who was hired after Jim Tracy resigned: "I don't know him personally. I know his reputation. I know he's a baseball guy first and foremost. He played the game the right way when he played. He was a gamer. Those are things I take pride in. I think we're going to get along real well. Every team takes the personality of its manager, and he seems laid-back, no-nonsense, gets after it. If we take on those characteristics, we'll be fine." Reports that his name could be involved in trade talks, although the club is saying the price for him will be high: "We haven't talked about the possibility of trades. I've seen the rumors, and like everybody else, I've read the articles, but as far as direct talks with me, nothing has transpired. My focus is to get ready and try to make us a better team than we were last year." Playing a second year with the Rockies and in the National League: "The hardest thing was transitioning over to the National League because I didn't have a track record. In some cases, it was one or two at-bats, and those one or two at-bats might have come four or five years ago. Now I've had a chance to get to know the pitchers, and a lot of last year was learning the catchers in the league. Studying what they do from game to game helped me a lot, and I have a data base and memories from previous at-bats." The club setting a direction -- something Cuddyer called for during an interview at the end of the season: "The direction has been mapped out as far as the staff is concerned. Once we get to Spring Training, personnel-wise, things are going to be ironed out. That's up to us to go into the season with that goal and purpose and understanding of what we're going to do and how we need to do it. As the season comes upon us, that direction will become more and more defined."
Thomas Harding is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Hardball in the Rockies, and follow him on Twitter @harding_at_mlb. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.